Cinematech Episode 226: “Bad Box Art and Legendary Endings”
Endings such as that of Halo: Combat Evolved, including the goofy extra clip that you got for beating the game on Legendary difficulty, showing Sargeant Johnson arguing with a Covenant Elite, only to embrace it as the Halo explodes.
- Cortana: Halo. It's finished.Master Chief: No. I think we're just getting started.
12:57 The legendary intro of the original NES version of Ninja Gaiden that transitions into the Xbox reboot from Team Ninja. What follows is a montage of gameplay and cutscenes that show some scenes from the ending. The ending itself reveals that the Emperor of Vigoor was Murai, Ryu's old sensei. Ryu slays his treacherous sensei, bids farewell to Rachel, the incredibly hot demon hunter that fell in love with him, and then, it gets... strange. Ryu hangs a necklace on a grave, it glows, Ryu jumps off of a cliff, and turns into a bird. Kind of cool.
17:36: A montage of games with bad box art begins with Karnaaj Rally◊, an overhead racing game for the Game Boy Advance from Jaleco. The game box shows a guy with blue hair making an EXTREME angry face. It's very silly.
Next up, usual suspect◊ Mega Man, followed by◊ A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, and finally, ICO. The North American release took the moody box art of the Japanese version and tried to make it something more literal, yet still a failure at explaining what the game was about. The montage ends with a blowup of the Japanese box art for comparison. Here is an image◊ comparing both reigons' box art for the game.
Episode 231: “Zelda Speed Run”
An ep featuring a speed run of the original The Legend of Zelda, beaten in 37 minutes, 50 seconds. Of course, it skips around to fit the timeframe of the ep.
I remember when I first heard about speed runs in Electronic Gaming Monthly. They talked to speed runners about the games they sped through and how they accomplished their feats. Sadly for the impatient, one of the runners said speed running involved a lot of practice; his speed run of Metroid Prime probably involved 100+ hours of practice and experimentation. In that timeframe, a typical player could finish the game several times. A speed runner, even moreso.
4:16: A scene from Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. I got a bone to pick with this game. This sequel to the 2003 Prince of Persia reboot is an example of what happens when marketing gets too much influence on a game's design. They took the charming Prince of that game and turned him into a beefy, bitch-word-slinging, carrier of generic angst and rage. And what about those “bitches”? The costumes in this game for the two main female characters are the kind of Stripperiffic that make no sense for the characters or setting. This is exacerbated by the more neutral portrayal of Farrah from the previous game. The last PoP game in the trilogy the following year tried to be more like the first.
7:09: The ending of Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, a third-person shooter from Midway that boasted great physics and psychic powers to experiment with, sort of like Survival Horror Galerians, only good. Psi-Ops was an example of one of the great advancements of the sixth generation of Video Games: realistic physics. This game, Burnout 3: Takedown, and Half-Life 2 are all good examples of using physics to enhance presentation and gameplay.
As for the ending of Psi-Ops, it ends with To Be Continued, which it obviously never was, and never will be, thanks to the death of publisher Midway Games.
12:30: Anime time with a clip from Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, included as a bonus on the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. In this clip, brainwashed soldier Cammy brutally attacks a North American senator with an anti-drug platform in full view of the press, until the senator's security detail restrains her.
14:43: The special bonus video from Kingdom Hearts Another Mix. The enigmatic video ends with a flurry of text, which were actually quotes from what was to become Kingdom Hearts II, the most important of which are the “Door to Light” and “We'll go together.”
Episode 232: “We Have the Technology”
A series of unconnected game clips with little clips of footage taken with a Game Boy Camera as segues. God, that was a fun little cartridge.
1:38: The intro of Power Stone, a very fun platform/fighting game from Capcom with a retro international theme, originally released for the Sega Dreamcast. The Excuse Plot is that the titular Power Stones are MacGuffins that some believe will grant their wishes if they collect all of them. The characters included:
- Falcon, a cute English pilot with the Union Jack on his jacket;
- Wangtang, a cute Chinese martial artist;
- Ryoma, a Samurai;
- Gunrock, a big and strong black guy;
- Rouge, a beautiful magician with pyrokinetic powers;
- Jack, a serial killer wrapped in bandages;
- Ayame, a cute young kunoichi;
- Galuda, the “red Indian” (oh boy);
- Kraken, the miniboss, a briny pirate captain;
- Valgas, the genre-obligatory, cheap, irritating final boss. His name may be a reference to Vulgus, Capcom's very first video game—yes, the one that Deadpool referenced in one of his Marvel vs. Capcom 3 winquotes, where he campaigned for a sequel.
During gameplay, weapons randomly spawned in the levels, as well as health-restoring food and drink. Most important of all are the Power Stones. Collect three of these, and either opponent can temporarily transform into a more powerful form, some of which were pretty wacky. Wangtang's was suspiciously Super Saiyan-esque. PS was reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. but quite fun in its own right. It got a sequel with more weapons, playable characters, and stages, and both games were ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2006, back when Capcom was porting/remaking some of its older games to the handheld. PS is, sadly, one of the few Capcom titles to not receive any characters for one of their crossover fighting games.
9:39: Mario and Luigi. Sonic and Tails. Chuck Greene and Frank West. You know who isn't remembered among the greatest gaming duos? Mohawk and Headphone Jack, the stars of a so-'90s-it-hurts SNES platformer from recently deceased publisher TH*Q. Released in 1996, the game was criticized for its use of Mode 7 rotation effects to rotate the levels. Reviewers cited motion sickness and headaches. The main characters were two faceless, buff, naked (but not anatomically correct) guys with shades and mohawks.
What games have had the best box art? The worst? The SoBadItsGood.Video Games page has some excellent examples from the SEGA Master System. The SMS was burdened with some of the most lazy box art ever. The cover for Pro Wrestling◊ may have been the most horrifying. Is it any wonder that SEGA commissioned some awesome paintings from Boris Vajello for some of their later Genesis games, even if his style didn't match the in-game graphics?